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Classes for a “Beginner Plus” ??

Linny | Posted in General Sewing Info on


I dusted off my sewing machine about 8 months ago, and since that time I have been working to improve my sewing skills by:

  – Basic home decor projects (Pillows, curtain panels, shower curtain etc.)

 – Beginner sewing classes at my local sewing center.

I found out that the structure of a weekly class has really helped me improve my skills.  By doing a project that focuses on a particular skill each week, I have been able to review the basics and correct any bad habits.. or barriers.

 (Button holes have been demystified!)

But now I am reaching the end of the Beginner series of sewing lessons offered at my local sewing center. 

  Any suggestions on how I can move forward from that point?

Some books I have started to read are still beyond my skill level, but I am outgrowing the sewing classes.

  What do you suggest for a “moving past beginner” sewer?





New to sewing again.


For example, I subsribed to Threads, and I think the articles are interesting.. but I won’t be doing a Chanel suit anytime soon!  I need challenges that are matched to my sewing level – beyond advanced beginner… but still rough around the edges.


Edited 10/31/2005 4:32 pm by Linny

Edited 10/31/2005 4:33 pm by Linny


  1. mimi | | #1

    Linny:  now tht you have mastered the basics, look for a pattern that adds ONE skill that you have not mastered yet.  Once you master that, move on to another skill.  Look for patterns like the "Very Easy Very Vogue" type.  This is how the rest of us got started!


    1. Linny | | #4

      Thank you for the inspiration. 

      I am also revisiting my basic patterns, and trying them again.. but this time I am trying to focus on how I finish the seams.

        My projects all have that "rough" homemade look, more sloppy than charming.

       My goal is to do more Charming and less sloppy.  I am not worried if it looks "home made" - but I am worried that the projects look well executed.

        I will start browsing the pattern libraries to get ideas.

        Be well

      1. mimi | | #7

        I can recommend the Vogue Sewing books for technique.  You can even find them at garage and yard sales and your library should have them in the stacks.  Don't be intimidated by the size; there is a lot of useful information in these books.  Take care with your measurements and your cutting.  If you add just a quarter of an inch to each seam, you can end up with a garment that does not hang right or fit well. 

        What exactly do you think makes your garments look sloppy?


  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    There are some online classes at http://www.patternreview.com and all sorts of reviews of patterns and their instructions to help you not get a lemon of a pattern. There are sewing instruction videos available. One series is called You Can Make It. I haven't seen any of these but I think there are reviews of some at patternreview.

    1. Linny | | #6

      Great point!  I did forget about the Pattern reviews... those are nifty.

      I think i could do the Basic PJ bottoms a couple more times - to get pockets, and seams sorted out!

      I am also trying to find a sewing-circle in my area... I think they still have those.. somewhere..




      1. Elisabeth | | #10

        For some fun reading you can go to http://www.vintagesewing.info Lots of great information to learn from.

        1. lovemycottons | | #21

          What a fun site!   I added it to my favorites.

        2. Linny | | #23

          The Vintage Sewing site is really neat!

          I found the book 'Paris Frocks at Home" from the 1930s.   I was surprised at the readability of the text, and the classic suggestions.

            Lots of tips that sound relevant to me!


          Being a plus sized gal, I noted "Advice to the Voluminous."   Although the tips are great, the title did give me a giggle. 

            Just from reading "lesson 1" - I am learn a thing or two.. I did make a little 'detour" based on this quote at the end of the lesson.  

          "And on the fifteenth floor one finds the living Delineator, Delineator Home Institute, where lovely interiors are constructed before your eyes, household engineer's test labor saving devices, and dietitians invent delectable new dishes. It is a fascinating place. Drop in some time when you are in New York." -  Paris Frocks at Home from http://www.vintagesewing.info/

          (This site says that Ellen Butterick invented the sewing pattern.  But this other site http://www.vintagefashionguild.org, says that a Mrs. W. Jennings Demorest was inventor of the paper pattern. Oh my my my, is controversy brewing?

          Edited 11/10/2005 9:14 pm by Linny

      2. SewTruTerry | | #11

        Also check out your local PBS stations to see if they run any sewing shows such as Sewing with Nancy or Sue Hausmans or Martha Pullens shows.  Then record these shows so that you can go back and review the techniques as many times as needed to understand them.  Also as you are making and sewing samples of techniques add them to a 3 ring binder along with written instructions that you can go back and review when needed.  You will be surprised very quickly what you really do know and what you can forget very easily.  Good luck.

    2. Linny | | #22

      oops, forgot to say Thanks!  Patternreview is a fun site.

  3. SMiles | | #3

    You might check your local library for some sewing videos.

    Also, Sandra Betzina's books NO TIME TO SEW and POWER

    SEWING, as well as the book SEWING CLASSIC CLOTHES

    THAT FIT by Rene Bergh have  been a great help to me.

    1. Linny | | #5

      Wow, thank you for the specific book recommendations.

      When I start sorting through the sewing books available, I usually get discouraged.  Either they are too simple, or not simple enough!

      Having recommended titles is a huge help.  And I can deal with them in manageable bites... one step at a time.

       I added the specific titles to my list for my next library run!




      Edited 11/10/2005 12:23 pm by Linny

  4. mem | | #8

    I think all the suggestions have been good ones . I think that it is important that you stretch youself a little though, otherwise you will not move ahead. I would suggest getting a pattern which is a liile out of your league and making it up in muslin . Do it to completion and as you sew read the pattern instructions as well as the relevant bits from a good sewing book.Check the fit and read up all the information on for example seting in a sleeve or turning up a hem. When you have it done ,try it  again in a fashion fabric . I also would suggest that you keep notes so that if you cant sew continuously you wont need to reinvent the wheel each time you pick up your project. Dont see the end product as the most important thing look at the journey of the sewing as the most important bit.That will mean that it wont seem quite so terrifying when you make mistakes.Good luck and work hard .

    1. Linny | | #25

      Sloppy for me equals: Not quite straight seam lines or top stitching, or when the seams don't meet  correctly.. hmm, or when something "mysteriously" turns out longer in the back than the front....

        Wide  seam finishes...... I could go on!


  5. sewingkmulkey | | #9


    I particularly like the responce from "mem" and her suggestion to make a muslin of a pattern that stretches your abilities, mastering the new skills, and then making it up in a fashion fabric. 

    I would also add that there are several techniques like edge stitching that make facings lie smooth and flat that can make a garment appear less "homemade" and sloppy.  Many of these techniques are described in books (and not always in pattern instructions) and can be added for a more professional looking garment.

    Keep reading and keep trying.






  6. mimi | | #12

    Linny:  if you get the DIY network on your cable TV, I would suggest watching or taping Sew Much More with Susan Khalje.  She makes everything look easy! 

    She has also written several books that are very good.


    1. Linny | | #13

      I record Sew Much More with Susan K, and then watch it later. 

      Nearly every episode I pick up on a technique or method that helps me improve.  Most of the time, the hints that help me are mixed in with the advanced techniques being illustrated. 

      When i watch and episode for a second time, I usually notice more tips that I can use.

      Of course, I am still working on the "basics" that appear to come naturally to the guests on the show.  Humbling, but it has helped me to focus on the basics, and my projects are continuing to improve.  (Tension, Pressing, pinning, ... all those details.)

      Edited 11/16/2005 6:06 pm by Linny

      1. mimi | | #14

        Linny, Keep at it and one day you will reach that level too!  I never thought I could, but after 30 plus years of sewing I can say that while I am not as good as she is, I'm darn close!

        I started out in Singer sponsered classes at age 10.  I was a lightweight until my 30's, when everything clicked in.  Now I would say that I am an "advanced" sewer.  There isn't anything put out by the patterns companies that gives me pause (except Menswear!).  If only I could master pattern drafting...my life would be complete.


      2. HeartFire | | #15

        You should take a class with Susan Khalje, she is awesome! I've taken 2 classes with her and hope for more in the future, Susan is one of the most delightful people I have ever met, she is so generous and encouraging, because of her I am now making wedding dresses professionally for others.

        1. Linny | | #16

          I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I keep wishing there would be class with her in Texas!

           Maybe if I click my heels enough times it will work.



          1. HeartFire | | #17

            Where in Texas are you? She was here in Houston in February, and she said she is in the process of setting up another one for Houston in May 2006 (I'll be in that one too)

          2. Linny | | #19

            Aha!  I must have missed the Houston listing.

            I live in Austin, so that wouldn't be too much of a treck. 

             Going to search it out now!


          3. HeartFire | | #24

            She doesn't have it listed yet, but I just returned (Oct 30th) from her 'French Jacket Class' in Baltimore, she told me then that she was thinking of doing another one in Houston in May

          4. mygaley | | #18

            In every state there is a US Government Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service already paid for with your tax dollars.  Remember 4-H, the home demonstration lady and the county agent?  This is where they are now--they are wonderful resource people--where I live there are Extension Sponsored Sewing Classes and clubs.

          5. Linny | | #20

            Great point, in Texas there is a Master Sewing Volunteer program.

            The extension gives 24 hours of training, and return you volunteer 50 hours on county sewing projects.  (4-H or whatever the county agent has going on...)

            I called the office today to get more information, and I didn't get a "person".. so I left a message. (None of my email requests have received a response.. ) 

            Edited 11/10/2005 9:10 pm by Linny

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